Saturday, 6 December 2014

Firefighters in England announce further pensions strike & GPTU statement

The Green Party Trade Union group sends support to those FBU members who will be striking on Tuesday next. We know that firefighters are dedicated to ensuring public safety and saving lives, so they will not be taking this step lightly. It is absurd, but regrettably not surprising, that the government cannot reach or even approach a settlement to the pensions dispute with the FBU in England whilst settlements and negotiations which the FBU finds more acceptable can proceed elsewhere in the UK. This is another sad example of the inept and dangerous handling of vital public services by the current government. We hope the firefighters will be able to win the just settlement that they deserve. 

Firefighters in England announce further pensions strike

( from FBU website)
Firefighters in England announce further pensions strike
Firefighters will walk out for 24 hours
No strike action called in Scotland and Wales due to ongoing negotiations
Trade dispute lifted in Northern Ireland
Firefighters in England today announced a further 24 hour strike to take place from 09.00 on Tuesday 9 December. This follows the government’s decision to commence the Parliamentary procedure to implement regulations for an unfair, unaffordable and unworkable pension scheme.
After almost three years of discussions firefighters still face a stark choice of either being sacked or a severely reduced pension if they fail fitness tests as a result of naturally declining fitness through age.
The evidence presented by the Fire Brigades Union has created considerable political opposition to proposals for firefighter pensions – even from within the Westminster coalition. The FBU has gathered cross party support from MPs in Westminster who have signed an Early Day Motion (EDM 454) opposing the draft regulations. The EDM is the procedural mechanism by which the government proposals can be challenged at this stage. This support for firefighters includes a number of Liberal Democrats.
Despite this the government have made no attempts to address the concerns within Parliament and are still pressing ahead with forcing through the regulations. They have so far refused to hold a full debate on the issue despite widespread concern among MPs.
Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said: “Firefighters in England are reluctantly calling further strike action today as a direct result of the Westminster government’s failure to listen and negotiate over pensions.
“Firefighters are asking the Westminster government to immediately open genuine negotiations to resolve this dispute. They should also hold a House of Commons debate to fully scrutinise the legislation and there should be a parliamentary vote on the regulations.
“We need to be clear. We are not going to give up or go away. Firefighters will fight for however long it takes to secure a fair pensions deal – this dispute will not end as long as the regulations remain unchanged.”
Firefighters in Northern Ireland have lifted their trade dispute as the result of a revised and improved offer with a lower pension age.
Firefighters in Scotland and Wales will be taking other forms of industrial action but will also not be on strike as a result of genuine negotiations have delivered changes to the proposals facing firefighters.
Wrack said: “It is sickening that the only part of the UK where the fire minister refuses to engage in genuine negotiations is England. We cannot accept that firefighters in England will be penalised simply because the Westminster government refuses to consider the evidence or even read its own reports on the risks to firefighter fitness related to aging. We have won the argument on this issue for the past three years. We face a government which refuses to negotiate or even to listen to reason. Therefore this fight will carry on.”

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